Pharmacy data conversions can be confusing. There are multiple vendors involved, and a lot of moving pieces to track. Today, we intend to clear up much of the confusion and give you a better understanding of the process.
We’ll begin with the basics: pharmacy data conversions are the process of transferring patient script information from one system to another. This is necessary when moving between software or health data management systems, such as switching from one pharmacy management system to another. The conversion process involves migrating patient demographics, doctor demographics, drug demographics, RX and fill history, as well other important data elements, images, and documents into the new system.
Now that we’ve established the basics, let’s delve into a few more important facts about pharmacy data conversions you don’t want to miss.
First, data conversions can be complex, and require quite a bit of expertise to ensure accuracy and compliance with applicable laws. Each pharmacy management system is different in terms of the underlying data schema, and how that data is stored. On top of that, given two of the same legacy systems in two different pharmacies, there are almost always differences between the two depending on where in the update process each is, the control pharmacy staff may or may not have in its ability to manipulate data fields, and how each staff uses the system. The longer on a given system, the more likely workarounds for deficiencies have been made. In this way each conversion is like a snowflake.
Second, it is essential to remember pharmacy data conversions must be managed carefully because they involve highly protected patient information. Pharmacy data contains both PHI (protected health information) as well as PII (personally identifiable information), and because of this are governed by federal laws (HIPAA and Hitech), and individual state laws set by the state board of regulations.When switching software systems, special attention must be given to regulatory compliance. Therefore, any company chosen to perform the conversion should have demonstrated experience and knowledge in the field of health data management as well as certified for their compliance and security protocols.
Pharmacy data conversions present a great opportunity for organizations to upgrade their software and health record management systems. It will enable them to remain compliant with applicable laws, maximize patient care and safety, as well as improve operational efficiency and even come with cost-savings benefits when coupled with legacy data archiving.
If your organization uses the system in an unconventional way, whether you have non-standard fields, or uses standard fields in an unique way, or have custom requirements, all of these will require custom development work. The more information you provide your conversion vendor about these fields or requirements the faster the development work will occur. But it still takes time to determine which is the right field, how to read it in, and how to make sure it comes across correctly to the new vendor. Often there is trial and error involved. Take a simple yes/no flag set in the system.There are literally hundreds of bytes of data in your system data that look like this (set to 0 or 1 in binary). Determining which is the correct field for the flag in question may take several coding attempts and reruns. The new vendor may not have a field to put the data, doubling the coding from scratch. People often see development work like ordering a burger, but it is more akin to ordering a custom sculpture carefully composed from a block of clay into something meaningful. This takes time.
Another important factor to consider is that different software may not treat data fields the same way. For example, a field in one system might be limited to 10 characters. Then, another is allowed up to 20 characters. This needs to be taken into account when performing a pharmacy data conversion, which is why knowledge of the system specs is important. It’s common to see field inconsistencies, highlighting the importance of choosing a conversion company with relevant expertise and experience with converting the different systems, both legacy and new..
Any time you attempt a manual data conversion, there is a risk of human error. Not to mention the cost of paying a tech or techs to hand enter this much data. Patient safety is job one here. The cost of conversion will always be worth the time and effort behind it to ensure that your business will proceed day one on the new system with as little manual effort as there can be during this type of transition, while protecting your customers from harm. People come to your pharmacy to get drugs and not the gas station, because you are the experts. Think about your conversion in the same way.
It’s an old adage,, but with pharmacy data it can become a truism. In the modern world we are always on the go, and looking for ways to move faster, but conversions should not be rushed. Because of their complexity and subject matter, it is vital to allow the right amount of time for due diligence by the vendors and by your staff, because lives—and your livelihood— depend on it. Quality and safety take time.
Finally, testing of the data throughout the conversion process will provide the best results. It is not best practice to skip this step, or skimp on it, so be wary of any vendor or conversion company that proposes a quick timeline. Your pharmacy data conversion company should include variable testing to ensure the data is accurately migrated to your new system. Your team is responsible for validating the data and reporting back to the conversion company, and retested until you feel comfortable moving forward. .
This ensures your patient data will be successfully transferred with the least amount of errors or omissions. If testing reveals a correctable issue, your chosen data solutions provider should be able to resolve it before go live given enough time.
It’s also worth noting that specific pharmacy data conversions can present unique challenges. This is particularly the case for independent pharmacies, which often use a range of different software and systems. While many data solutions providers specialize in this type of conversion, it’s vital to ensure they have experience dealing with the specific platform you are using. Depending on your organization’s needs, you may also require pharmacy archiving services or long-term storage options for patient records.
Learn more about the challenges of pharmacy data conversions and migrations here.
Luckily, most of these challenges are easy to overcome with a trusted conversion company who is well-versed in the process. By taking the time to research your options and ask the right questions, you can rest assured your data will be handled safely and securely throughout the entire conversion process.
Schedule a call with our team today to learn more about pharmacy data conversions from Two Point. We have decades of experience helping pharmacies and other healthcare organizations successfully convert their data. Our team will work closely with you to provide tailored solutions that meet your needs and keep patient data secure.
Contact us today for more information about how we can help your organization improve its pharmacy data system.